Wednesday, August 10th, 2022 19:27:36

Karnataka Legislative Assembly Speaker

By S. A. Hemanth
Updated: May 8, 2021 2:09 pm

Vishweshwara Hegde, Kageri

Pro-Active,Vibrant, Progressive-Minded and Reform-Oriented”

“Speaker’s task is just not to conduct the Assembly proceedings during the legislature session. Our task is to create awareness among the people about the importance of debates in the legislature, find out ways and means to strengthen democracy, streamline various aspects of democratic process by holding seminars, intellectual talks and round-table conferences on various issues.

We also need to consciously persuade the political parties to train their members in terms of dignified conduct, exemplary behavior, develop keenness to take part in the debate,” said Vishweshwara Hegde, Kageri, Speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly.

Kageri’s Media Coordinating Officer S. A. Hemanth obliged to write for UDAY INDIA about the Karnataka Assembly Speaker.

Pro-active and dynamic in action, progressive in thoughts, enthusiastic about ushering in reforms, robust in transforming the face of the Karnataka Legislature, Kageri has been able to win the love, affection and respect of all the members of the Assembly by being strict and no-nonsense when needed; impartial and objective; professionalism and dispassionate about any political party.

“The principle with which I function is thus-far-no-further. I give full freedom to the members to speak but at the same time I restrain them when I feel that the language, tone and tenor are not in accordance with the dignity and decorum of the house. More particularly, I encourage the new comers to participate in the debate,” Kageri explained.

Born in a humble agricultural family at a remote village Baroor in the picturesque Sirsi Taluk of Karwar district nestled in Sahyadri forests, Kageri had his primary and high schooling at Marikamba Primary and High School at Sirsi. He completed his Commerce from Karnataka University, Dharwad and did his Law Degree in his home town Sirsi.

Kageri came in contact with the RSS at a very young age and was soon identified by the RSS bigwigs as having potential to work in Akhila Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parisad (ABVP). “I am fortunate to have come in contact with Dattatreya Hosabale, Prof P.V. Krishna Bhat and Ananth Kumar,” Vishweshwar Hegde added. While his ideological mooring is the RSS, his personality grooming is in ABVP.

In his capacity as State Secretary of the ABVP, Kageri has participated in many agitations including “Save Assam” (1981-82) and “Save Kashmir” (1990).

As is the convention in Karnataka, and perhaps elsewhere, in the Sangh Pariwar, Ananth Kumar brought Kageri into politics in early 90s. He won the Assembly elections from Ankola constituency in 1994 for the first time and since then on, he has not looked back. Kageri’s knowledge and experience as legislator is abundant as he has been a six-term MLA consecutively.

It is because of the fact that he has been in the Opposition for a long time and has been a cabinet minister between 2008 & 2013, Kageri has mastered, and is thorough with the intricacies and nuances of the parliamentary practice and procedure. And this rich knowledge and profound experience has come in handy to this “erudite” leader to run the house dispassionately, objectively and with a sense of professionalism.

Kageri is keen to usher in reforms to improve the quality of debate in the Assembly by giving utmost importance to the participation of all the members.

“Divergent views must come from all sides. Then the debate will be vibrant and robust. It enables the Speaker to take a decision as well as enlighten the treasury benches on issues. Our task should be to throw light on the burning problems of the common man instead of indulging in theatrics that are aimed at drawing the attention of the media. A good speech laced with intellectualism borne out of deep study on specific subjects will always receive good media attention. I am keen to see MLAs become subject-specific experts,” the Speaker said throwing open his mind.

He has not hesitated to chide the ruling party members also, including the ministers if the debates and discussions are not taken seriously by the ministers. At the same time, he uses both “kid-gloves method” as well as “strict and harsh” stance to discipline the members. When Congress MLA B.K. Sangamesh removed his shirt – which was clearly undignified and unparliamentary behavior – Kageri who was presiding over the proceedings was extremely angry, upset as well as sad.

“This is not acceptable by any standards and any parameters. I disapprove of what you have done today. You have lowered the dignity, decorum and decency of this august house,” he told the errant member. He also gave a piece of his mind to Congress senior members who tried to defend Sangamesh. When the ruling party members demanded that the issue be referred to the privileges committee, Kageri did not hesitate and accepted to their demand. “Such behavior is unacceptable and intolerable,” he said, while announcing his decision to refer the “remove-the-shirt” episode to privileges committee.

Kageri has certain progressive-thoughts to make the debate in the Assembly more meaningful, concrete and its outcome profound in the interest of parliamentary democracy. (See Box Items)

Off the Assembly during the non-session period, the Speaker continues to remain busy in holding seminars, round-table conferences and intellectuals talk on various issues of democracy. While he initiated a special discussion on “One Nation – One Election” in the Assembly, which, of course, was boycotted by the Congress, Kageri held a seminar on the “Ethical Behaviour and Practices of Members – how to stop the deterioration of Parliamentary Values” in the banquet hall of Vidhana Soudha. This was attended by good number of intellectuals from various walks of life – media, judiciary, academics, writers, et al…

The Karnataka Assembly Speaker has been a regular invitee to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference that is being held in different parts of the country. In fact, Kageri has been selected as Member of the Sub-Committee to suggest ways and means to stop the pernicious practice of “defection” in different forms with specific reference to the 10th Schedule of the Constitution. “Defection is the bane of parliamentary democracy. This menace has to be stopped, once and for all. We need to plug the legislative loopholes, if any. The committee headed by the Speaker of the Rajasthan Assembly, of which I am the member, is working on this crucial task,” Kageri added.

Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri has proved to be “a Speaker-with-a-difference-with a clear distinction” by the dint of his excellent performance; dignified conduct; exemplary behavior and has proved to be a “worthy of emulation” apart from demonstrating his great potential to shoulder greater responsibility in the next coming years.

On deterioration of Parliamentary Values 

Expressing deep concern over the declining parliamentary values, Karnataka Assembly Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde, Kageri, in his scholarly treatise on the subject, made several valuable suggestions during a seminar not only to halt the deteriorating parliamentary values but also to enhance the values that sustain the temple of democracy, the legislature.

Let us imbibe in ourselves the spirit of being servants of the people and work for their welfare without any rancor, selfishness and partisan attitude.
Let us strive towards ushering in sweeping and radical reforms in the electoral system so as to make the poll process clean and neat.

Let us grow intellectually by deep study of the subject and present in a cogent manner so as to throw light on the problem and enable the government to take a concrete and meaningful action in order to redress the grievance.

Let us develop an attitude of statesman by focusing and highlighting the issue and the problem instead of blaming an individual; our focus and thrust should be to improve the system and not to score brownie points in the debate.

Let us, as a matter of conviction, try to behave responsibly with utmost dignity, decorum and decency; let us remember that the collective reputation, image and credibility of the house – in effect the reputation of the people of the state – is inextricably linked to our conduct and behavior; performance and achievements.
I would like the media – the fourth pillar of the democratic structure – to develop an attitude of focusing and highlighting the positive aspects of the proceedings instead of a standalone errant conduct of the member.

 

On the importance of Question Hour

Kageri is scrupulous on the issue of holding Question Hour. “It is question hour, not hours. Let us learn the art of asking questions in a specific and precise manner. There is no scope for speech during the question hour,” he repeatedly says in the House.  On the demand to suspend the question hour and take up other matters of importance, Kageri is of the firm view that “Ordinarily I am not in favour of abolishing the question hour. It is only during the question hour a member gets the reply from the treasury bench pertaining to his constituency or some issue pertaining to the state. Moreover, in order to get the reply, entire bureaucratic machinery would have had put in its efforts; there is enormous human effort involved in preparing the answer to the questions. Personally, I am not in favor of suspending the question hour. Other matters of importance can be taken up after the question hour”

 

On the issue of enhancing the quality of debate

“I am of the view that the political parties must take up orientation program to  their respective members and train them to become subject-specific experts. It is true that an elected representative need to speak on almost all the subjects but there is also the need to throw light on various burning problems of the common man for which subject-experts need to speak. When the members – having become experts on specific subjects – speak, then the quality of debate automatically gets enhanced. On my own, I have initiated this exercise to enhance the quality of debate by holding training sessions on behalf of the Assembly Secretariat”

 

Landmark events conceived and implemented by the Speaker outside the Assembly
 On the 10th Schedule of the Constitution pertaining to Speaker’s role and authority on the pernicious problem of defections.
 Introspection over the declining parliamentary values and ways & means to halt it.
 Constitution Day – need to understand the Letter and Spirit of the Constitution in right perspective as envisaged by the Founding Fathers of the Constitution.
 One Nation – One Election: Need to give a positive and good look at the idea..

 

The Karnataka Assembly Speaker Sri Vishweshwara Hegde, Kageri attended a conference of Presiding Officers at Uganda, Kampala where he highlighted the strength of Indian Democracy and the beauty of “Unity in Diversity” His erudite address at Ugandan Parliament received standing ovation by the members.

 

Kageri has always been an active participant in all the Conference of the Presiding Officers held at different parts of the country, such as Jaipur, Lucknow, Ahmedabad (Gandhinagar) etc, etc. He has been pro-active in taking part in the discussions and his speeches have always been measured, matured and thought-provoking. Given his dynamism and intellectual robustness, Kageri has been appointed as Member of the Sub Committee of Presiding Officers to suggest amendments to the 10th Schedule of the Constitution.

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